Once a cleaning procedure has been established, it is essential that it is validated. Is the procedure as documented capable of controlling the identified hazards? This may include bacterial pathogens or allergens. The method of validating a cleaning procedure is as follows:
• Document the cleaning procedure as it actually exists done on the job and in conjunction with those who perform the cleaning.
• Identify the general and specific hazards of concern, e.g. pathogens, allergens, etc.
• Identify the monitoring program, e.g. visual, ATP, chemical testing, etc.
• Conduct the cleaning program as documented a number of times and follow up with the monitoring checks.
• Confirm that the procedure as documented is capable of meeting the monitoring criteria.
• If the procedure is not capable, modify the cleaning method or correct the issue.
• Repeat the above process until the documented cleaning procedure is confirmed as capable of meeting the standard (verified) and approve the procedure.
• Conduct training of employees against the procedure and implement the monitoring program.
• Retain full records of the above data and process including your conclusions.
Monitoring the cleaning process
A typical monitoring program may include one or more of the following:
• Visual inspection
• Microbiological testing
• Rapid testing
Wet and Dry Cleaning
Cleaning essentially involves dry cleaning and wet cleaning in the food processing unit. Even though there are best of the cleaning chemicals and detergents and water, dry cleaning is the best solution in case of cleaning that equipment that handles production of dry goods. For example, in a unit handling chocolate or peanut butter, if water is used as a cleaning agent, it would end up in a big mess and could ruin the machinery too.
Many a time, brushing and scraping manually are resorted to in the dry cleaning techniques, however these methods are time consuming and does not yield effectively clean results. The main flaw with this method is that it does not agitate the surface, which is fundamental to getting deep within the surface, including any pores and crevices. A process that combines an approach of washing, scrubbing, steaming and drying food processing equipment and surfaces is ideal. These steps allow for not only sterilisation (if steam temperature is high enough) but also a mechanical agitation, which helps with the removal of food residue, dirt and grime.
For tough-to-reach spots, many food processors rely on compressed air, which is just blowing powder and debris from one place to another. To remove food residue from both reachable and hard to reach areas effectively, industrial vacuums with HEPA filters are used. In order to remove stubborn soils or greasy particles, dry vapour steam equipment could be used. Besides the production lines, dry vapour is also used in the packaging machinery and conveyor belts.
Dry steam cleaning processes, significantly reduce the risk of residue build-up or the occurrence of moist/wet floors, which could lead to slips and falls. Following, these basic steps, the machinery is sprayed with sanitizers to complete the cleaning process.
Dry cleaning procedures can be applied to floors, walls, containers, installations, etc. For example, filling stations or even during goods handling, there is a lot of spillage that needs to be cleaned quickly. Industrial vacuums with high suction power and good filters are suitable to clean this area of the food processing unit.